Kentucky roots matter to Kentuckians. So, politically, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is taking a huge risk in his home state by standing in the way of the confirmation of a highly qualified Kentucky native as CIA director.
To be clear, Kentucky ties should never be the rationale for supporting anyone for such a crucial role. But, in this case, Gina Haspel, who has lived and breathed CIA for more than three decades, is clearly the right person for the job.
Most people know little about the CIA, except that the agency’s work is imperative to the safety and security of America. Haspel served most of her career in obscurity, facing dangers that most people can’t even conceptualize and has risen through the ranks to deputy director of the agency, proving herself as a topnotch administrator.
Her confirmation very well could hinge on Paul’s vote.
Haspel was born in Ashland, the oldest of five children, to a father who served in the U.S. Air Force. She attended the University of Kentucky for three years studying languages and journalism before transferring to the University of Louisville where she graduated with honors and went to a brilliant career with the CIA.
Haspel has received strong endorsements from a string of former CIA directors, including Leon Panetta and John Brennan who served during the Obama Administration.
As Kentuckians listened to Haspel’s testimony before the Senate intelligence committee, they heard nothing that would disqualify her from leading the CIA. In fact, they heard much that would lead them to believe she is perfect for the role.
Paul’s objection to Haspel involves her work in the aftermath of 9/11, when the U.S. was searching desperately for information to head off additional terrorist attacks, when the CIA turned to some harsh interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, to obtain that information.
Haspel told the Senate intelligence committee that, if confirmed, she would not allow the use of those tactics. In saying that, she answered Paul’s concern. It’s time for him to get behind his fellow Kentuckian for this crucial position, not because she’s a Kentuckian, but because it would be impossible to find anyone more qualified, more prepared and more suitable for the job.